Emigration in Ireland

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The words economy, efficiency and effectiveness are sometimes used imprecisely. Discuss these terms using examples from the Public Service that you have knowledge or personal experience of.

I’m 45 years old, born and reared in Ireland to Irish parents. . I was reared for emigration as were my peers at school. We knew implicitly that a large percentage of us would end up working in other countries.

I’ve had many good and some great teachers. I never once had a teacher that told me that Ireland would end up having to import large numbers of employees.

My great great grandfather migrated from Tipperary to Galway in the 1840’s and we suspect that he would have emigrated to USA if the famine ships had had a lower death rate. His son emigrated to California and his grand-son founded UPS. I’ve worked in other countries for reasons of economic necessity as have my parents, grand-parents and great grand-parents.

Somewhere in the 1980’s the effects of Ireland’s entry into the European Union began to have significant economic impact. This happened in many sectors of the economy at different speeds and in different sectors at different times. It also became apparent in the Public Service as employees were exposed to public service norms in countries other than the United Kingdom. The Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland by North American countries was also a significant actor on the economy and a key driver of the need to modernize the Public Service.

The expansion of the National economy and Ireland’s Public Service allowed me and more of my generation to domicile in Ireland. The size of the Public Service is a function of the size of an economy. Money to fund the Public Service must come from taxation and borrowing. The size of Ireland’s Public Service has expanded in co-relation to the expansion of the national economy.

Large and vibrant economies are susceptible to cyclical episodes affecting liquidity, investment and inflation. The current Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has brought the national economy and the public service into the spotlight as solutions are sought to budgetary deficits.

Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness (The Three E’s) are often used loosely in Government and governance (both in business and in society). They can be used imprecisely to heap praise and justification by proponents of a measure “Ceann Comhairle, I commend this bill to the house, I am convinced that it will deliver net gain for the taxpayer” Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan on the passing of the NAMA legislation.

Equally they are used to criticize and condemn by people and organizations opposed to an approach or intervention. For instance Jack O Connor of SIPTU attacks regularly the Austerity Measures implemented by Government as being a false economy.

The Public Service has many components and areas of operation and in its broadest terms includes commercial semi-state operators such as the ESB. The case could also be made for that with the partial nationalization of some of the banks e.g. AIB that the size and cost of the Public Service has increased substantially since the GFC.

Privitisation generally reduces the size of the Public Service but the transition from one category to another often leaves the Government with future economic costs. An example is the creation of Eircom and the retention of employment benefits by public service staff that joined it from its predecessor Dept of Post and Telegraph.

The Three E’s have been with civilization for some time and are used in areas of philosophy and science. Economic theory and social research make great use of them for evaluation. The precise meanings differ depending on the context they are used in and semantics of language are important.

Much study involving time and resources have been allocated to the study of the Three E’s in the Public Service, nationally and internationally. Most developed countries have national...
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